William was born in Rugby, the only son of John and Martha Bird of 67, Railway Terrace. His birth is recorded in the Rugby Register for June 1881 ref. 6D 549. He was baptised on 24 June 1881. He attended Murray School, and returned there for one term as a teacher before working a supply teacher for Warwickshire County Council and then as a Head Teacher at Knowle Parochial School, Warwickshire. He married Sarah Alice in Newport, Shropshire in mid 1908. In the 1911 Census he is living at Lodge Road, Knowle with his wife Alice aged 30. They had 2 children after the Census..
He was a keen rugby player for Rugby F C captaining the 2nd XV and playing for the 1st XV both as a back and forward.
William joined the Royal Fusiliers, regimental number 1/154 as a Private, but after landing in France in 1915, he was transferred to the 7th Battalion,Queens Own (Royal West Kents) The Buffs with number G/18174.
During his time in France he was promoted to Lance Corporal.
In the last few months of his life he took an active part in a number of attacks by his Battalion and against him by the German Army
From the 2nd to the 5th of May 1916 the 7th Buffs marched to Picqingny north-west of Amiens.
The rest of the month was training at their billet for the attacks to come. On the 9 and 10 June they moved by train and marching to Bray. A C and D companies moved to Carnoy and on the 15th they relieved the 8th Surreys. They were active with rifle and machine gun fire against the enemy. After relief they spent 22/23 June carrying gas cylinders to the front line. The next 2 days they were preparing for the new attack.
In late June/early July 1916, two major attacks were undertaken by the 7th Buffs as part of the 55th Brigade. On 26th June the start time of 12.30 am had to be delayed to 10.30am. Due to communication difficulties. ‘D’ Company went missing and 3 attempts to locate them failed. Eventually a wounded survivor reported that they reached the German trench unseen and laid on the parapet until a German came out and he was shot. This alerted the rest of the enemy who killed and wounded the Company.
A major attack was organised for the 55th Brigade for 1st July, in which the 7th Buffs were to cover the 8th Surreys and the 7th Queens. There was considerable resistance from the Germans from the start, with the 8th Surreys being held up in Train Alley, and they requested help. Communication failures meant that only ‘C’ company reached the objective. ‘D’ Company remained in their original position as no order to advance reached them, and their Officer was killed. The move was a success and at the end of the day 600 yards of Montauban Alley was held by the 7th Buffs, thereby releasing the 2 other battalions. Many trenches between the FL and Brigade HQ has been damaged during the offensive. Casualties were: I officer killed, 7 wounded, 1 NCO killed 1 wounded, 3 other ranks 37 killed, 135 wounded, 1 missing.
They were in billets for 3 days and then marched over 5 days to Briquetier.
There is a gap in the War Diary copy from the 13th of July 1916 to 1/1/1917. Therefore we do not know how William met his death, on 4th October 1916. He was due to be commissioned as an Officer.
He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial Pier and face 11C. He is also remembered on his parents grave in Clifton Road Cemetery.
He was given the Victory and British War medal.
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM